By BosNewsLife Africa Service
TIMBUKTU, MALI (BosNewsLife)– Christians have expressed concerns about the plight of kidnapped Christian missionaries after a group linked to the al-Qaida terror network released a video showing six foreign hostages.
The recently formed Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen said it had in its custody missionaries Beatrice Stockly of Switzerland, Gloria Cecilia Narvaez of Colombia and Elliot Kenneth Arthur of Australia along with three other foreigners identified as Stephen McGowan of South Africa, Iulian Ghergut of Romania, and Sophie Petronin of France.
No genuine negotiations have begun to rescue your children,” a narrator says.
The narrator also mentions the recently elected French President Emmanuel Macron, saying that Petronin “is hoping that the new French president will come to her rescue.”
The video is the first proof of life in a long time, Christians said.
Among them is Colombian nun Gloria Cecilia Narvaez, who is in er 60s. She was kidnapped on February 7 when assailants broke into her convent in Karangasso, southern Mali, said Christians with close knowledge about the situation.
An 82-year-old Australian surgeon, Elliot Kenneth Arthur, was kidnapped last year in January 2016, along with his wife Jocelyn, from the town of Djibo in northern Burkina Faso, near the border with Mali, BosNewsLife learned.
The couple was abducted on the same day that al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) group killed 29 victims in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, including six Canadian Christians doing humanitarian work and an American missionary.
Although Jocelyn was released a month later, her husband remains in detainment.
On January 15, al-Qaida’s Ansar al-Dine (AQIM) terrorist group kidnapped Swiss Christian missionary Beatrice Stockly from her home in Timbuktu, Mali, Christians said.
It was reportedly the second time in four years that militants abducted Beatrice.
After the group had seized control of Timbuktu, she was accused of “proselytizing Christianity,” held for ten days, and warned that she would be executed if she tried to return to Timbuktu, Christians said.
Despite the threat, Beatrice returned to Timbuktu in 2013 after French troops liberated the city. In January 2016, AQIM released a video showing Beatrice in full Islamic dress with an English-speaking jihadi proposing a prisoner swap.
Now a year later, another video was posted on social media showing a veiled Beatrice speaking in French, saying she has been detained for 130 days but is in good health and was treated well.
She concluded by thanking her family and the Swiss government “for all their efforts” to secure her release.
However, activists said there was no reference about an American missionary who went missing last October. Jeff Woodke, who worked for a branch of Christian aid group Youth With A Mission, was abducted by unknown assailants late in the evening of October 14th from the town of Abalak in northern Niger, according to rights investigators.
Christians said Jeff’s condition or exact whereabouts are unknown. However, his captors were tracked to neighboring Mali by Nigerien authorities.
On July 11, a video was released by Els Woodke, expressing her despair, and a desire to be in touch with her husband’s kidnappers.
Advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC), which supports reportedly persecuted Christians, said it had urged prayers to “Ask the Lord to tangibly manifest His comforting presence among the kidnapped missionaries while they remain in captivity.”
VOMC also asked its supporters to pray for the captors and families of the hostages. Besides, “please pray for the protection of the country’s other foreign mission workers so that needed humanitarian aid can continue assisting the suffering people of Mali,” the group added.